Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) is one of the biggest consumers of energy in America. It’s estimated that air conditioning alone is responsible for 9 – 14% of the energy consumed by homes and buildings, meaning a huge portion of one’s monthly bills goes toward cooling the home.
In a move to make air conditioning more affordable and energy-efficient, as well as to reduce its impact on global climate change, a new form of cooling has begun to gain in popularity throughout the country: radiant cooling.
According to a February 19 JustMeans article, radiant cooling is used to regulate temperatures within about half of America’s net-zero energy buildings due to its significantly lower energy consumption. By cooling a building’s walls, ceilings and floors with water or an alternate cooling fluid rather than cooling the air itself, radiant cooling produces a draft-free indoor environment which is more comfortable as well as more energy-saving.
In fact, radiant cooling systems require just 5% of the energy and 20% of the ductwork that a traditional air conditioning unit would. While radiant cooling still employs fans and ducts to circulate air, it requires much less fan power than an air conditioner.
“While an increase in efficiency standards and regulations tend to make competitive alternatives more attractive, I believe we still have a while to go before this becomes an appealing option for homeowners in our region,” says Scott Bowen, Customer Service Representative, Thomas HVAC Company. “While it is a more efficient method that does hold potential, one would not see much of an energy efficiency difference in our climate.It would need to be accompanied with a de-humidification system in order to prevent the growth of mold. Ultimately, the potential savings due to efficiency are outweighed by initial investment and upkeep complications for the average homeowner in our climate.”
While radiant cooling is mostly used in the commercial sector at the moment, it’s likely that a growing number of residential buildings and homes will adapt to this technology as it becomes more accessible and affordable, experts predict.
According to one Navigant Research study, energy-efficient HVAC systems such as radiant cooling will generate annual revenues of $33.2 billion by 2020; and considering the immense long-term savings of an energy-efficient cooling system, it’s well worth the upfront cost to switch over to radiant cooling.